Several weeks ago, my son-in-law loaned me two CDs from the Christian band Casting Crowns. One disc, Lifesong, ministered to me in deep ways, especially tracks two through five, which I must have played in my car a hundred times. As I listened to the heart-piercing lyrics, I found myself convicted---receiving biblical comfort for the needs of my own heart, counsel for how we are called to minister to fellow sinners, and direction for how we as believers are called to minister to one-another in the church. Here are four ways I am being counseled by four of their songs.
1. There is power in praising God while experiencing the storms of life.
Sometimes, unconsciously, our posture is one of waiting until a storm has passed in order to praise the Lord. “Praise You in this Storm” is a soul-stirring, strengthening prayer that will bring you to tears in the midst of your suffering. Read Psalms 46 and 121 and then ponder these lyrics.
I was sure by now that You would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining. As the thunder rolls, I barely hear Your whisper through the rain “I’m with you,” and as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.
[Chorus:] And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands, for You are who You are no matter where I am. And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand; You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.
I remember when I stumbled in the wind, You heard my cry to You and You raised me up again. My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on if I can’t find You? But as the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain “I’m with you.” And as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.
[Chorus:] I lift my eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
2. To be like Christ means to be filled with heart-breaking compassion for those in need of the Savior.
If our churches lack biblical compassion then we are not authentically Christian. Do we really see the spiritual needs around us? The song asks, “Does Anybody Hear Her?” Are we so caught up in our busy lives, or filled with such self-righteousness that we can hard-heartedly walk past broken sinners? Are we really content to be Pharisees? Read Matthew 9:27-38 and then ponder these lyrics.
She is running a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction. She is trying, but the canyon’s ever widening in the depths of her cold heart. So she sets out on another misadventure just to find she's another two years older and she’s three more steps behind.
Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see? Or does anybody even knows she’s going down today, under the shadow of our steeple, with all the lost and lonely people, searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me. Does anybody hear her? Can anybody see?
3. Life-transparency is a great risk, which will surely result in some deep pains, but the rewards of spiritual freedom and personal growth in holiness are worth every grief.
Let’s be honest; our churches are filled with broken sinners, including you and me, but no true revival will ever come to us as long as we play church---as long as our calloused hearts are content with our “Stained Glass Masquerade.” Who will receive courage from the Lord to take the first step---to take that first great risk? Who will admit their great weakness and thus invite others to join them in the real Christian life? If your church became authentic would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay? Without transparency, how will our churches become households of grace? Read Matthew 11:28-30 and then ponder these lyrics.
Is there anyone that fails? Is there anyone that falls? Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small? Cause when I take a look around everybody seems so strong; I know they'll soon discover that I don’t belong. So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay. If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too. So with a painted grin, I play the part again so everyone will see me the way that I see them.
[Chorus:] Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples, with walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain? But if the invitation’s open to every heart that has been broken maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade.
Is there anyone who’s been there? Are there any hands to raise? Am I the only one who’s traded in the altar for a stage? The performance is convincing and we know every line by heart. Only when no one is watching can we really fall apart.
But would it set me free, if I dared to let you see the truth behind the person that you imagine me to be? Would your arms be open? Or would you walk away? Would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay?
4. When fellow believers are suffering indescribable pain, which they never could have anticipated, stay with them---right by their side. Don’t scold them, or abandon them, but love them.
When a woman in your church is abandoned by her husband or a couple loses their baby, steadfastly remain by their side. Don’t leave them to flounder alone, to suffer in silence; “Love Them Like Jesus.” Read Romans 8 and then ponder these lyrics.
The love of her life is drifting away; they’re losing the fight for another day. The life that she’s known is falling apart, a fatherless home, a child’s broken heart. You’re holding her hand, you’re straining for words; you’re trying to make sense of it all. She’s desperate for hope, darkness clouding her view; she's looking to you.
[Chorus:] Just love her like Jesus, carry her to Him. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. You don't need the answers to all of life's questions. Just know that He loves her and stay by her side. Love her like Jesus. Love her like Jesus.
The gifts lie in wait, in a room painted blue, little blessing from Heaven would be there soon. Hope fades in the night, blue skies turn to gray, as the little one slips away. You’re holding her hand, you’re straining for words, you’re trying to make sense of it all. They’re desperate for hope, darkness clouding their view, they’re looking to you.
[Chorus:] Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. You don’t need the answers to all of life's questions. Just know that He loves them and stay by their side Love them like Jesus.
Are we truly compassionate, biblical caregivers? What will it take for us to become like Christ? Lord, help us to love like Jesus loves.
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